How to choose a coffee machine for your home

How to choose a coffee machine for your home
How to choose a coffee machine for your home

A detailed guide to choosing an espresso machine. It will help you figure out how a single boiler with a heat exchanger differs from a double boiler or a lever, which types of machines are more suitable for making cappuccino, and understand which coffee machine is right for you. Or is it unnecessary: ​​suddenly the aeropress and the funnel are yours?

Chantal Craft Coffee 3-Pc Set Matte Black Electric Water Kettle

  • Included components: Ryder electric kettle, Lotus Coffee filter, and French press
  • Ryder kettle is made of 18/8 stainless steel, including interior which is BPA free – no plastic! Volume measurements shown inside the kettle and there is an auto shut-off & boil-dry protection.
  • Chantal’s Lotus ceramic filter is perfect for brewing hand crafted coffee. Filter provides a uniquely designed handle and view through filter window ensuring Coffee does not over flow, with two small holes for slow dripping and maximum flavor. Accommodates #2 filter paper.
  • Ceramic French Press is designed with a unique thumb handle which facilitates easy handling and pouring when you are ready to serve. Stainless steel plunger includes a fine mesh screen which prevents Coffee or tea sediments from escaping. The ceramic body is sure to keep your drink Warm or cold, holding the temperatures longer than glass or stainless steel.
  • Ryder kettle capacity: 4-cups Lotus filter capacity: 8-ounces French press capacity: 3. 5-Cups

Three facts about espresso, or why you need it

Fact 1: Espresso and dairy-based drinks are the most expensive way to make coffee. Most expensive in all respects. If you want a big cup of delicious coffee, the funnel and the aeropress will solve this problem for a much more modest amount. If you want espresso and are willing to spend a lot of money, read on.

Fact 2: You need a suitable grinder to make espresso. The one that knows how to grind the grain evenly and finely enough. And it is highly desirable – with stepless grinding adjustment. I can say with absolute certainty that buying an espresso machine is pointless without a suitable coffee grinder (with a few exceptions, which I will talk about at the end).

Not suitable for espresso:

  • manual coffee grinders with ceramic burrs (Hario, Porlex),
  • rotary coffee grinders (notorious Bosch MKM 6000/6003),
  • “Pseudo-grain” coffee grinders (Delonghi KG79, KG89).

They are just as good for making espresso as diesel for a gasoline engine. The above options are not suitable even for the initial stage.

Here are the current budget models of coffee grinders at the time of this writing, which meet the minimum grinding quality requirements for espresso.

Manual:

  • Made by Knock: Aergrind, Feldrind, Feld2,
  • Timemore (Slim, Nano, Chestnut),
  • Comandante.

Electrical:

  • Baratza Encore,
  • Gaggia MDF,
  • Nuova Simonelli Grinta,
  • Graef 702, Graef 800,
  • Lelit Fred.

It makes sense to spend money on a higher grade grinder than those listed. For example,Kinu M47, Bezzera BB005, Mazzer (Mini, Super Jolly), Fiorenzato (F4, F5, F64), Macap (MC5, MC6), Quamar (M80).

Fact 3: Making espresso requires knowledge and skill, which means learning. Which means time. Barista courses, reading specialized forums and books will be very helpful.

If you still want to make espresso at home, read on!

How to choose a coffee machine for your home  2
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 2

Requirements for the coffee maker

It sounds trite, but the espresso machine should allow the user to make a good espresso. What is espresso? The answer to this question is given by the standard of the Italian Institute of Espresso.

We are most interested in the technical parameters from this document.

To prepare a single portion of espresso, you need equipment that allows you to spill hot water (88 ± 2 degrees) through 7 ± 1 gram of ground coffee at a pressure of 9 ± 1 bar for 25 ± 5 seconds and get 25 ± 5 ml of the drink, including the foam (t .n. cream). For a double espresso – 50 ml of beverage from 14 grams of ground coffee (pressure, temperature and time are the same as for a single espresso).

The document above has a standard for cappuccino too. The standard requires steaming milk to be added to the espresso. The milk should be whipped into a fine-textured foam that is distributed throughout the milk. If you want to drink espresso-based milk drinks (cappuccino, latte, flat white, raf), then your coffee maker should be capable of steaming milk. There are coffee makers (in the widest price ranges) that do not have a cappuccino maker, which does not interfere, however, with making good espresso with them.

BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Mill and Brew Coffeemaker, Black, CM5000B

  • Integrated Grinder/Brew Filter – The innovative design combines the coffee grinder with the brew filter basket for fast, fresh brewing and simple cleanup
  • Streamlined Grinding and Brewing – Fresh coffee, fast, the all-in-one design makes it easy to grind whole beans, giving you the full flavor and aroma of your favorite beans every time
  • Whole Beans or Grounds – Brew you favorite cup, the grinder quickly prepares whole beans, and it can be turned off for normal brewing with pre-ground coffee
  • Custom Brewing – Use the brew strength selector for coffee that fits your taste, options for regular, bold, and strong
  • QuickTouch Programming – Easily program the 24-hour auto brew feature so you can wake up to a fresh pot of coffee, plus, the backlit display highlights the time and the program you choose
  • Note: Cup equals approximately 5 ounce. (varies by brewing technique)

Ground coffee is poured into the basket, the basket is in the holder (horn). The coffee in the basket is evenly distributed and compacted (tempered) with a special tool – a tamper. The grind should be selected so that the compacted coffee in the basket creates an obstacle for water passing through it and the cherished 25 ml of the drink is spilled in 25 seconds. Note that it is the coffee pill that creates resistance to spillage, and not the “enhancers” that I will discuss below.

Let’s look at the possible options for coffee makers, dividing them into groups.

Household espresso machines

This category includes espresso machines sold in home appliance stores under well-known brands: Vitek, Delonghi, Polaris, Phillips, Saeco, etc. We will not consider espresso coffee makers without a pump, in which the pressure is created by steam, because they will not squeeze espresso, despite the name.

How to choose a coffee machine for your home 3
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 3

Pros:

  • price,
  • small size,
  • quick readiness to work.

Minuses:

  • low thermal stability,
  • you cannot control the temperature of the water when brewing,
  • “wet steam,
  • often – low quality plastic,
  • in most coffee makers – a basket with a so-called. “Uluchshayzerom”, unsuitable for making a full espresso.

You can brew coffee without qualifications. These coffee makers are easy to use and are the cheapest units capable of making espresso. They quickly heat up and reach their operating temperature. Many are equipped so that a user without the qualifications of a barista can make a minimum of mistakes. For example:

  • “Improver” in the basket. This is either a spring-loaded valve or a very narrow opening located on the outside of the bottom of the basket. If you have not set the desired grind or are using pre-ground coffee, then the “improver” will help to create some kind of pressure that will allow you to squeeze out a somewhat saturated drink. True, such a drink can only be called espresso at a stretch;
  • Panarello attachment. It will allow a person to whip milk with a minimum of preparation.

Water temperature cannot be controlled. Either a small boiler or a thermoblock (i.e. a flow heater) is used as a heating element. There is usually no regulation of the water temperature. If the coffee maker is prone to overheating or underheating, then, most likely, this defect cannot be corrected without intervention in its design.

In addition to the unstable temperature, the thermoblock often gives out steam with water droplets (the so-called “wet” steam), it will be more difficult and longer to whip milk on such a coffee maker than on more advanced machines.

If you make coffee in a basket with an “enhancer”, then such a drink will not be as dense as a real espresso, and the foam on the surface will not be from gas bubbles that formed in the beans during roasting, but from air bubbles formed when coffee is sprayed under pressure … Nevertheless, having chosen the correct grind, I got a balanced tasty coffee on a similar coffee maker in terms of density slightly weaker than espresso.

You can improve the result. To get a real dense espresso, you will need to buy a basket without an “enhancer” for your coffee maker. Such baskets are sold on Aliexpress for about 300 rubles. Some models of household coffee makers are sold with a regular basket without an “enhancer” – for example, Delonghi EC145. The Panarello maker can be removed from the cappuccino maker and the milk can be frothed without it. If the length of the cappuccino maker is enough (and often not enough), then with some skills it is possible to whip milk of the correct texture.

Most likely, they all have the same pump. When choosing a household espresso machine, do not trust marketing gimmicks, for example, about a pressure of 21 bar or 19 bar. A drink spilled under a pressure of even 12 bar is caustic filth. You don’t need more than 9 bar, and to be honest, the coffee maker will not develop more. Many models have a pressure of 15 bar. This is the nominal pressure produced by the standard Ulka vibration pump found in domestic coffee makers, more advanced coffee machines, and vacuum cleaners. The second trick follows from the first. Next to the household coffee makers of the same brand, I saw a beautiful sign stating that they had a “professional Italian pump” installed. Do not believe it: there is such a pump in the cars standing next to it. This is the same Ulka, and it is quite inexpensive.

Semi-professional one-boiler coffee makers

This category includes coffee makers with one boiler. The boiler heats water for espresso, in most models it can be switched to steam production. Usually the boiler is copper or brass, less often made of stainless steel. In such coffee makers, there is often a professional team that ensures a stable flow temperature.

How to choose a coffee machine for your home 4
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 4

Single boiler espresso coffee maker Lelit PL41 Plust. In the upper right corner of the front panel is the PID (Temperature Controller).

Models

The hit of this category is Rancilio Silvia, as well as the popular Bezzera Unica, Lelit (PL41, PL91, PL042), La Spaziale Rossini, VBM Domobar Manual and others.

Pros:

  • allow you to prepare a full espresso,
  • reliability and good workmanship,
  • the ability to control the brewing temperature,
  • good quality steam for frothing milk.

Minuses:

  • it is inconvenient to prepare milk drinks (cappuccino, latte, raf, etc.),
  • inconvenient to switch to steam mode and back,
  • the pallet must be emptied regularly.
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 5
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 5

Professional accessories are suitable for such machines. Well-known companies simultaneously produce both semi-professional and professional machines for coffee shops and bars. Professional accessories are suitable for home versions, for example, holders, various baskets and temperas, as well as some spare parts.

Temperature can be controlled. Some models (Lelit PL41Plust, Bezzera Unica) are already equipped with a special PID controller at the factory. It allows you to set the temperature at which you want to spill the espresso. As soon as the temperature of the water in the boiler changes (for example, if the cappuccinatore has just been turned on or you have made an espresso), the PID will turn on the heater in the boiler and turn it off when the water reaches the desired temperature. The PID can be purchased separately and installed by yourself. Without PID, the temperature of the strait can be controlled using the “temperature surfing” technique. You can find information on this technique on the Internet.

You can make real espresso. Coffee makers from this group allow you to prepare a real espresso and give out good dry steam, especially models with larger boilers (Bezzera Unica, La Spaziale Rossini).

They come with a built-in coffee grinder and a separate thermoblock. Among single boiler coffee makers, there are models with a built-in coffee grinder, for example, Lelit Anita, Lelit Kate. This is a pretty good starting point, but a separate grinder would be a more practical option. There are single boiler coffee makers with a separate thermoblock (flow heater) for steam. For example, Nemox Top Pro, old versions of Ascaso Steel Duo (new ones with two thermoblocks). It is much easier to prepare milk drinks with such coffee makers, but they are also rare.

It is inconvenient if you make cappuccino a lot. The first and biggest disadvantage is the user of a single-boiler coffee maker learns when trying to make a cappuccino or other drink for which you need to whip milk. There is only one boiler in the coffee maker. This means that if you have just spilled an espresso, be so kind as to put the boiler into steam mode and wait a minute or two until it warms up to 130-150 degrees. During this time, the espresso will have time to cool down and run out a little. After frothing milk, you need to refill the boiler, and for this, open the tap of the steam engine and turn on the pump so that it draws water into the boiler. Details should be found in the instructions for a particular coffee maker, but this is usually a rather noisy procedure. A sleeping family will not appreciate it in the morning. Constant drainage of condensate, superheated water and water from the three-way valve requires regular emptying of the sump,

Cuisinart DCC-2750 Extreme Brew 10-Cup Thermal Programmable Coffeemaker, Silver

  • 10-cup stainless steel double-wall insulated thermal carafe
  • Fully automatic with 24-hour programmability, self-clean, 1-4 cup setting and adjustable auto-shutoff (0-4 hours)
  • Brew Strength Control allows you to enjoy your coffee Regular or Bold before brewing is completed
  • Brew Pause feature lets you enjoy a cup of coffee before brewing is completed
  • Gold tone commercial style permanent filter, Charcoal water filter (removes impurities)

Semi-professional coffee makers with one boiler with heat exchanger

Coffee makers with a heat exchanger can simultaneously dispense hot water for pouring espresso and steam for frothing milk. In them, the boiler is already larger in volume, 1.5-3 liters. In it, the water is heated to about 120 degrees (it can be more or less, depending on the settings), it is from this boiler that steam enters the cappuccinatore. Inside this boiler is the so-called. heat exchanger: a coil in which the water is heated to make the espresso.

How to choose a coffee machine for your home  6
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 6

Models

Typical representatives of this category are Nuova Simonelli Oscar (both versions), Nuova Simonelli Musica, various Bezzera models (BZ10, BZ13, Mitica, etc.), Sab Pratika, Sab Alice, Quick Mill Vetrano 0995, Rocket Apartamento, Profitec Pro 500, Faema Carisma S1, Lelit Mara and many others.

Pros:

  • allow you to prepare a full espresso,
  • reliable and high quality,
  • allow you to control the brewing temperature,
  • allow you to prepare several milk drinks in a row,
  • give out good, stable and powerful dry steam.

Minuses:

  • require a cooling pass,
  • expensive.

Need a cooling strand. When the coffee maker is ready for use, there is superheated water in the espresso path. Therefore, before pouring the espresso, you should make the so-called. cooling spill: pour water from the group into the drip tray for a few seconds without the horn inserted. The overheated water is drained away and you can spill the espresso with water of the right temperature rather than boiling water. The more water you drain, the colder the water in the strait. I wrote down the cooling strait as disadvantages (in order to write something there), but in fact it is a tool for controlling the temperature of the strait. Such coffee makers differ from professional machines with a heat exchanger in the size of the boiler (in professional machines there are boilers from 5 liters) and the power of the heating elements in the boiler.

Semi-professional coffee makers with two boilers

Double boiler coffee makers, as the name suggests, have two boilers: one for espresso (smaller), the other for steam (larger). Such machines provide the greatest comfort when preparing milk drinks. No cooling spills needed, no need to switch the coffee maker to steam mode and vice versa. Opened the tap – there will be steam. I pressed the button – there will be a strait through the group. But such coffee machines are more expensive than comparable machines with a heat exchanger.

How to choose a coffee machine for your home 7
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 7

Double-boiler La Marzocco Linea Mini coffee machine.

Models

Typical representatives of this category are Lelit (Diana, Elizabeth, Bianca), Domobar Junior 2B, Domobar Super 2B, Alex Duetto, Profitec Pro 300, Profitec Pro 700, La Spaziale Vivaldi, La Marzocco Linea Mini, etc.

Pros:

  • allow you to prepare a full espresso,
  • high reliability and good workmanship,
  • the ability to control the brewing temperature,
  • give out powerful dry steam,
  • the ability to prepare several milk drinks in a row with high comfort.

Minuses:

  • price,
  • two boilers are heated by two separate heating elements, each with a capacity of 1-2 kW. At the moment of heating, such a coffee maker consumes a lot of electricity and creates a significant load on the electrical network.
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 8
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 8

Double boiler La Marzocco Linea Mini coffee machines. La Marzocco’s stand at PIR-Expo 2018.

Among the double boiler coffee makers there are models with or without PID. Such coffee makers differ from professional multi-boiler espresso machines only in the size of the boilers and sometimes in the number of groups.

Lever (lever) coffee makers

Perhaps these are the most unusual and unusual coffee makers for us. It was on leveler coffee makers that it was possible for the first time to get espresso in the form in which we know it today. Some models are truly legendary: the progenitor of the lever-operated manual coffee maker La Pavoni Europiccola turns 60 in 2019! And Europiccola itself is 58 years old.

In coffee makers, the role of the pump is played by a person: he pushes hot water with a piston through the coffee in the basket. A lever is used to provide the required pressure. Lever coffee makers are divided into two types: manual and spring-loaded.

In manual coffee makers, the person creates pressure by applying force to the lever. The harder a person presses, the higher the pressure. It is realistic to reach 9 bar if you apply a force of 14 kgf to the lever (equivalent to the pressure exerted by an object weighing 14 kg).

In spring-loaded displacement coffee makers, a person cocks the spring with a lever, and the already cocked spring presses on the piston. An obvious plus of this approach is that your hands are free while the espresso is pouring. Whisk the milk during this time. Spring-loaded coffee makers give good repeatability of the result: the spring, unlike a person, presses on the piston the same every time.

How to choose a coffee machine for your home 9
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 9

Elektra Micro Casa a Leva spring loaded coffee maker 2003

Models

The model range of displacement coffee makers is not as extensive as that of pump machines. But there is a choice.

  • Hand-held: La Pavoni (Europiccola, Professional, Stradivari), Olympia Cremina, Zacconi Baby.
  • Spring-loaded: Electra Micro Casa a Leva, Ponte Vecchio (Export, Lusso), Zacconi Riviera, and also not so compact, but with a 58-mm band: Profitec Pro 800, Bezzera Strega, Londinium I, etc.

Pros:

  • price,
  • small size,
  • excellent espresso quality and easy preparation of milk drinks,
  • durability and maintainability.

Minuses:

  • in some models, the group may overheat after making several drinks in a row,
  • in most models it is not possible to refill the boiler until the coffee maker has cooled down,
  • pull the lever.
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 10
How to choose a coffee machine for your home 10

Price. The cost of the younger (in terms of price, but not in quality) La Pavoni models is comparable to the price of one-boiler semi-professional coffee machines. Models with a spring are already more expensive, at a price comparable to younger models of coffee machines with a heat exchanger or two boilers.

Can be repaired and repaired. The design of such coffee makers is quite simple. There are entire communities of coffee maker lovers, and most bought their copies in substandard form at flea markets and restored to fully functional state.

Cuisinart DCC-1200BKS 12 Cup Brew Central Coffee Maker, Black Stainless Steel

  • Classic brushed metal design with a 12-cup carafe with ergonomic handle for comfortable, dripless pouring and knuckle guard
  • Brew Pause feature lets you enjoy a cup of Coffee before brewing has finished. Adjustable heater plate (low, medium, high) ensures that your Coffee stays at the temperature you like best
  • 24-Hour Advance brew start, programmable auto shutoff from 0 to 4 hours, Plus a 1- to 4-cup feature when making less than 5 cups
  • Includes: charcoal water filter and permanent gold tone filter that ensures only the freshest Coffee flavor flows through. Measuring scoop. Instruction book
  • Unit Dimension: 9″ L x 7. 75″ W x 14″ H

Suitable for preparing espresso and milk drinks. The boiler always contains pressurized boiling water. To get steam, just open the tap. When you cock the plunger, hot water enters the coffee maker group and there is cooled down to an acceptable temperature.

Limited choice of accessories. The diameter of the group for La Pavoni, released after 2000, is 51 mm, for Elektra Micro Casa a Leva – 49 mm, for Ponte Vecchio – 45 mm. Small groups – small baskets. The double basket of these coffee makers can hold up to 15 grams of coffee. From the point of view of making excellent espresso, this is not a minus, but for coffee makers with a group of 58 mm in diameter, the choice of baskets, levelers, tamper and other accessories is much larger.

What to choose?

If you drink espresso but don’t drink milk drinks, feel free to grab a Lever or any single boiler coffee maker: starting with the simple Lelit Anna, continuing with the slightly more advanced Bezzera Unica, and ending with La Marzocco Shot Brewer (this excellent coffee machine does not have a cappuccino maker at all).

If you don’t need to make more than one cappuccino at a time, then you don’t have to spend a lot of money on coffee makers with a heat exchanger or two boilers. You can do with a single-boiler coffee maker or a lever (except for La Pavoni Mignon, it does not have a cappuccinatore)

If you prepare two or more cappuccinoes at once, for example, for yourself and your guests, then you will spend much more time on a one-boiler coffee maker than even on a lever one. Don’t get me wrong: you can make ten cappuccino in a row on a one-boiler, but you will spend an entire hour of your life on it. The most budgetary and at the same time quite comfortable option is to use a lever coffee maker. If you want more stability, then it makes sense to look at the spring lever. And if you want stability and do not want to push the lever, then your choice is coffee machines with a heat exchanger or two boilers. I can only recommend espresso coffee makers from a home appliance store if you really want to drink espresso, but there is no way to allocate money for a one-boiler or lever coffee maker. And, as I said at the beginning of the article,

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